Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 26, 2008 01:05 PM

Unique Wineries in Napa

My husband and I are visiting Napa in June and are looking for some recommendations on smaller/more unique wineries to visit. We've been before and done the commercial types like Mondavi and Beringer as well as a few smaller ones (Miner Family and Von Strasser) to name a few.

We are not interested in tours. We are mostly looking for quality cabs but are also interested in sauvingon blancs that are unique to the area and that you are not able to buy throughout the U.S. Why pay to ship it when I can buy it at home?

Does anyone know of wineries who produce/sell Howell Mountain Cabs?

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The website for the SF Chronicle has a very good database of winery info. Go to:

    In the "Wine Country Guide" search for All Napa County as a location and Howell as a Keyword. That should produce a short list of wineries worth a look

    1. We really like to visit the smaller wineries. Typically, we make a reservation or two, then ask "who else" should we visit ... and can usually give you the number to call for a reservation, or sometimes will even call ahead for you. Don't be put off by need for reservations, most of smaller wineries require reservations because of the type of liquor license they have. You can usually call and make a reservation for 10 minutes later.

      Our latest favorite -- Salvestrin Winery (in St Helena) -- small, and have a great Sauvingon Blanc as well as some Italian varietals. Nearby is Chase Family Cellars, they have some nice cab's.

      1. I'm a big fan of Kelham. . .they have really nice Cabs and Sauv Blancs. You need to make a reservation though, but it's not a big deal.

        1. #1 Milat on Hwy 29 @ Oakville cross. Great Cabs, Zins and Merlots. No one else will have heard of them.
          #2 Joseph Phelps off of the Silvarado Trail. Call ahead for a tasting.
          #3 Cain Vineyards. Call ahead for a tasting.
          #4 Caymus. Call ahead for a tasting
          #5 Groth (on the Oakville cross). Call ahead for a tasting.
          #6 Pine Ridge (at Oakville cross & Silverado Trail). No call necessary, but worth the visit.
          #7 Diamond Creek (up near Calistoga). You cannot get in, BUT, if your visit is in July, they have an "open house" for several weekends. Call to see if any coincide with your visit.


          3 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Thanks for all your recommendations. Bill Hunt, I actually had Pine Ridge on my list so I'll make a point to visit there. A couple others I had on my list were Goosecross Cellars and Judd's Hill - anyone have any thoughts on these?

            1. re: MyrnEats

              Goosecross makes a wonderful Chardonnay.

              Most of the threads about Napa wineries are on the San Francisco Bay Area board if you'd like to re-post your thread there or do a search. Good luck.

              1. re: MyrnEats

                I have head a lot of good recs. for Goosecross, but have not been. Same for Judd's Hill.

                It's been too long, since I made my run up Hwy. 29 and then down Silvarado Trail, so there are new wineries, and some that I have just missed. Given that I am in PHX, it's difficult to hit 'em all, especially as I always include Joseph Phelps, and they seem to require that I spend the rest of the day sampling each tasting, which is usually different.

                I hear that WE will be in Sacramento in Jan., so I will do my best to hit more than MY "usual suspects." Still, I love to frequent the smaller, out-of-the-way producers, but have a few favs., that I must visit, especially "off-season."

                Most of all: do not try for too much. I find that 4/day is the max., and I am a "trained professional... " One cannot hit ALL of the wineries, unless they have a month to commit.

                Little tips: if you hit one, that seems great, when the busses are in the parking lot, walk around for a bit and enjoy the scenery. When the busses leave, enter, and TALK to the personnel. They usually love what they are doing, and love, and know, the wines, and any serious visitor usually gets special treatment. I have never had to pay for any tasting in Napa, even when my AMEX card was on the counter. It is about the love of the grape. I have also never had the listed pourings. There are always library bottles, or special bottles, that seem to come out. Interested, and interesting, conversation always bring these out. Regardless of the general impression of Napa, the folk love their wines, and do wish to share with anyone, who knows, or wishes to know, about them. Be open, and most of all, enjoy. Say "thank you," and do not be in a hurry. All of the folk in the busses are in a hurry, and it shows. It is not a competition, but a learning experience. Did you PhD come in an afternoon? Nah, it took some time. Be prepared to spend some time and it will then become "quality time."

                Let us know about your favs. and any "busts," that you encounter.


            2. Howell Mtn Cab by Ladera is excellent. I also like the very limited syrah they produce. Lovely place, small winery at or near the top of Howell Mtn.